Making Big Decisions Better
All organizations are faced with decisions. What to focus on, what to invest in, how to get to there from here are all common questions when approaching strategy.
I’ve read many books on strategy. There are many that are theoretical. I enjoy them and think about the implications. But there are a few that are actionable. As a CEO, I can use aspects of them immediately. That’s what I found when I read Tim Lewko’s new book, Making Big Decisions Better: How to Set and Simplify Business Strategy. Tim Lewko is the CEO of Thinking Dimensions Group, and his book goes right to the core of setting strategy that you can implement immediately.
I followed up with him to discuss his new book and his strategic work.
Develop a Common Definition of Strategy
Why is it problematic that most of us don’t share a common definition of “strategy”?
Not having a common definition of strategy creates all the problems CEOs, executives, managers and people who want to make their mark are trying to avoid in the critical areas of:
What are some of the common misconceptions about strategy?
The list could be quite long but I will share the top three that trip up firms in setting a quality strategy—and that are easy to fix if the CEO and leadership chooses to. They are:
- EUREKA – It’s a magical idea that just comes to you
- SINGULAR – One person holds the key to the great idea
- BYPASS SWEAT EQUITY – Outsiders can tell you the answer and it should work
Be Wary of Outsourcing Strategy
There are many large successful firms that come and provide the “answer” that shows up as a long set of PowerPoint slides – and this prescriptive approach is the choice for many CEOs. However, the approach which I practice is process based – where we bring a proven strategy system that “forces tough tradeoffs” and leaves them in a better place because they created the strategy and understand how to modify the choices as events fold. This process approach helps to avoid the problems associated with outsourcing strategy including:
- DEFAULT on sweat equity – missing out on working through, understanding and deciding the key things that matter from EXTERNAL and INTERNAL standpoints
- TOLD WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW – in my experience, clients already know 85% of what’s holding the business back (outsiders may give you 60%) so why pay for what is already known?
- DELAY or DESTROY BUY-IN – if you outsource strategy, you have already short-changed your ability to implement the strategy – because you have side-stepped the most important people – your executive team and workforce who need to intimately understand the why behind the PRODUCT, MARKET and CAPABILITY choices that are being made. Sure, a great CEO communication or town hall helps to sell the outsourced strategy, but deep down those closest to the issues feel side-stepped – and it takes an awful lot of time to get them to buy in to something that is not theirs.
“Unwarranted complications are killing strategy in organizations.” –Tim Lewko